People with diabetes may be at risk for developing neuropathy with its accompanying nerve damage. Neuropathy may affect 60 to 70 percent of all diabetics.
Those who have had diabetes for 25 years or more are at the highest risk for neuropathy. Other high risk groups are people with diabetes whose blood sugar levels are not well regulated, diabetics with high blood fat levels, high blood pressure, and overweight diabetics.
Peripheral neuropathy is the predominant type of neuropathy that affects people with diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy also goes by the names of sensorimotor neuropathy, and distal symmetric neuropathy.
Not all diabetics with peripheral neuropathy will feel pain, in fact some will have no noticeable symptoms at all. But many people with diabetics experience mild to intense symptoms.
Common symptoms are unusual physical sensations like burning, tingling, prickling, pain and cramps. Lack of sensation like insensitivity to heat, cold and pain, or feeling numb, can occur.
Hypersensitivity to touch may also be a symptom. If you have peripheral neuropathy you may experience a loss of coordination and balance.
You may find that your muscles are weak, and your reflexes may be poor. Feet can be major targets, in part due to the wear and tear of daily life. Walking, wearing ill-fitting shoes, pressures from excess weight, bad posture, etc. take a toll on even a healthy person's feet. For the diabetic, things can get ugly.
Sores and blisters can appear and if untended, can become infected, even to the point of bones becoming infected, and in extreme cases amputation becomes necessary. These wounds sometimes have gone untreated because of the numbness sometimes caused by peripheral neuropathy.
Deformities of the foot can emerge, for instance, collapse of the midfoot, or hammertoes. Walking can be altered by this, or by weakness in the ankle muscles.
The best healing of sores to the feet of people with diabetes, is most likely to occur when the sore is not too evolved. If a diabetic has not had the illness for very long, and whose blood circulation is fairly healthy, they have good prospects of proper healing.